"I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

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gekiganwing
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"I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#1 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:50 am

The people at Sakura River used this phrase in a recent blog post. And it got me thinking. Why has the group received good press from people outside of romance game fandom?

I think the answer might be in negative audience expectations. Perhaps many people tried a game or two from J-List and didn't enjoy them. Too many instances of adult VNs with not-so-good writing and often quite a few typos. Or too many instances of trying to market stories with adult content to people who wanted complex games.

English speaking fandom has always been small. I sense that it's grown partly due to fans translating games/stories with quality writing and decent gameplay. And due to English speaking fans creating content which previously didn't exist.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#2 Post by Desu_Cake » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:45 am

I agree that there is definitely a low level of quality. I often play games which make me wonder why anyone bothered translating them. Thing is, people tend to assume that because a game is expensive/translated/available on j-list, it is better than all the others which aren't. This obviously both lowers peoples expectations, and turns them off that sort of game.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#3 Post by papillon » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:38 pm

I think the majority of people have never tried them at all, but are simply repulsed by the concept. Watch on sites like yahoo answers when someone asks for "dating sim" recommendations - a handful of people will immediately pile in and suggest the poster is a loser who should try dating in real life, in ways that make it fairly clear they've never played. They tend to think that EITHER the games are a "pathetic" replacement for a real partner, or at best, that they're like romance novels, which also have a bad reputation in mainstream public opinion. (And, like with h-games, sometimes that reputation is deserved and sometimes it isn't. There are many AWFUL romance novels in the world, there are many that are good.)

Frankly, it's completely normal for a large portion of the audience to say that they don't normally play such games, because most of the gaming world *doesn't*. Wherever you go, any random person you can tempt into trying your game has a decent chance of having zero experience with the genre, so if you've done any marketing at all, you're going to get people saying things like that.

Mangagamer's public sales figures from Koihime Musou and their comments about it being their best-selling title suggest that almost all of their games shift only a few hundred copies. There are more players than that because of rampant piracy, but still, that's not much of a customer base. There are multiple English games which have sold more than a thousand copies, and considering the opinion of the typical h-game fans towards original-english non-H games, only limited overlap.

One interesting result of the recent growth in the English otome games market is that I keep stumbling across fans who don't say anything about "not normally playing dating sims" because they don't even know that "dating sims" exist. They've never heard of them! They apply the term 'otome game' to anything even vaguely anime-related that they see pictures of, because that's all they're familiar with, and even ask questions about whether there is such a thing as "otome games for boys" (meaning BxG).

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#4 Post by jack_norton » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:00 pm

"otome games for boys" !? LOL hahah that's a good one :D
Anyway, that's why in the description and PRs of Always Remember Me I described it as "life / dating sim". "Life sim" is a concept more clear to gamers!
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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#5 Post by Counter Arts » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:07 am

papillon wrote:Mangagamer's public sales figures from Koihime Musou and their comments about it being their best-selling title suggest that almost all of their games shift only a few hundred copies. There are more players than that because of rampant piracy, but still, that's not much of a customer base. There are multiple English games which have sold more than a thousand copies, and considering the opinion of the typical h-game fans towards original-english non-H games, only limited overlap.
The other thing to keep in mind is the price point difference between major Japanese titles and original English games. They sell less but they get larger margins. You'd have to crunch the numbers. With our current English market we can't charge that much ($40 USD)... at least until one of the English-based commercial people gets something like an anime made from our games or one of our theme songs reaches a top 10 chart.

There is the option of the slow push to higher price points too and/or having features that would merit the price. Something like getting an all-star anime voice actor line up or something. Then you might have something at the same price point as a DVD season collection.

Although I still have something up my sleeve that I'm trying to work out. It could happen although it seems like trying to make a small miracle happen too. But looking at the numbers... dang... it just seems like it should happen.
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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#6 Post by DaFool » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:23 am

Yeah it was an eye-opener that a single game of Jack Norton's can outsell a Mangagamer -- but who gets the press in the anime circles? Mangagamer. I guess all that popularity just leads to piracy.

Counter Arts >> I'm doing research with Go Go Nippon -- examining its production values, how it's put together, how many CGs and all that. At 9.95 Euros, that's what I consider the commercial OELVN competition. Not the 40 bucks fapfests. And considering it's one of the best-selling titles, I'm pretty sure the Japanese companies will want to make shorter, cheaper works -- now that's when from a price-point perspective they'll go head-to-head with EVNs.

Then again, I sincerely believe the EVN scene is going on a different trajectory, as it should. If Japanese animators stuck to traditional Disney techniques, we wouldn't have the anime style as we do today. Today's EVN creators tend to be concise and robust writers (I'm thinking of games like Cheap and Sacred Thing and Tying Threads) and don't waste our time with
(....)
(....)
(~~~~)
and having one character type out every .5 seconds and other annoying behavior of JVNs that assumes their users are all NEETs.

I was surprised when Katawa Shoujo was able to reach demographics who don't usually read VNs. But what's even more surprising is how Winter Wolves was able to reach demographics who don't even usually watch anime, such as some Linux user groups.

Non-IF but still western style storytelling is the general direction I would want to go. Especially stories with adult characters who aren't idiots (contrary to today's anime trends).

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#7 Post by papillon » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:32 am

Unfortunately there are a *large* number of people who still care about games only as far as it means they can steal something to play for free. There are a disturbing number of pirates on _this_ board, not to mention the ones who have the cheek to come to my _own_ forums and try to demand attention for tech support problems that occur only in the pirate versions of games.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#8 Post by jack_norton » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:36 am

That's why I was "forced" to use a different system. It was a good thing though, because now even my regular customers love it, saying that is much less hassle than to deal with various fullversions downloads. The amount of support emails has basically dropped to zero, while I still get some people asking to redownload some of my old games they bought 2-3 years ago...!
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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#9 Post by SilverxBlue » Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:00 am

papillon wrote:Unfortunately there are a *large* number of people who still care about games only as far as it means they can steal something to play for free. There are a disturbing number of pirates on _this_ board, not to mention the ones who have the cheek to come to my _own_ forums and try to demand attention for tech support problems that occur only in the pirate versions of games.
^This... Just this.

One of my friends who I got into VNs linked me to a certain "sharing" website. And I was surprised to see some users here, were also there. (But don't worry! I didn't download anything I even reported those dang things.)
And now I feel guilty for making my friend love Visual Novels, because I did not just turn her into a VN-lover but I also turned her into a pirate.
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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#10 Post by Counter Arts » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:42 am

Well I can't wait till we'll get to the point where people care who canonically wins the main character's heart. Then we can have votes based on registered licence keys or something. Show your support for the character.
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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#11 Post by Blue Lemma » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:24 am

Counter Arts wrote:Well I can't wait till we'll get to the point where people care who canonically wins the main character's heart. Then we can have votes based on registered licence keys or something.
Haha, that's an awesome idea :mrgreen: I don't know if I'd like to see it or not, but it's awesome.

And noooooo, pirating bad! Support the game-makers (with money and love~!)

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#12 Post by CKSqua » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:12 pm

The "dating sim" tag is detrimental, isn't it? I've always hated the term myself.
And considering it's one of the best-selling titles, I'm pretty sure the Japanese companies will want to make shorter, cheaper works -- now that's when from a price-point perspective they'll go head-to-head with EVNs.
From what I read (on Siliconera), Go Go Nippon isn't doing so well. Can't say I'm surprised though since its release escaped my notice.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#13 Post by papillon » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:34 pm

What I heard was that it was selling a decent number of copies by MG's usual standards, but that it was failing to be the breakthrough title they were hoping for.

Sadly even though they've finally implemented an affiliate program, it's been pretty much a wash for me. Obviously I'm very limited in what games of theirs I can try to sell (no H!) but I'm getting ~0 sales. Don't know if it's because what they have on offer isn't GxB, because people are scared off by the Euro pricing, or something else. Considering the terrible results so far combined with just how little they pay affiliates, it's only charity on my part that has me listing their games at all.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#14 Post by Crusher » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:53 am

Is this just about the "Dating" genre or visual novels with romances in general? Sorry, I'm pretty new to all this and don't know about B&G, G&B, otome and all the other terms you are using :D.

Anyway, since I am so new to this, this is how it was for me:

First off: The whole genre is brutally unknown, at least in Germany. When I heard the word "dating sim" I always thought about the little flashgames where you have 100 days to gain points in strength, intelligence and so on to impress girls. Just crappy little games, sometimes with erotic content so some crazy people can jerk off to absurd figures that seem to resemble anime characters. Something like sim girls DNA or how that was called. Actually that's still what I think about when I hear "dating sim", so calling it a "romance visual novel" or something like that would probably be better in my case.
I think the beginning for me was when I was watching the Chaos;Head anime. After seeing it was based on something called a "Visual Novel" I heard that description for the first time. However, it sounded like everything is based around sex scenes although there is a story apart from that, so I wasn't sure if that was really something for me. I asked in a small anime community if there are actually some novels like that without sex scenes and that's when I was introduced to my first one: Tsukihime (+ anti-eroge translation option).

So in general the main problem is probably that professional works are not known, making the stupid stuff the only ones most people get to know. I remember seeing some reviews of "Lost Odyssey" (where you have little 10-15 minute stories in the visual novel style) where people seemed to be surprised that they could actually enjoy text with music so much.
If you really mean dating sims specifically: Well, it doesn't sound like you do anything besides dating - and that's something people probably don't want as a sole purpose in a game. There's no sign of a good story or anything else. Even if you don't use that word for a novel: Usually you just see a bunch of female anime characters and hear that you can choose the girl you want and that it has specific erotic content making it an 18+. What do you expect people to think about that? They just think it's porn that let's you think you are the hero who got the girls into your bed. Something for desperate nerds. And the hentai-tentacle reputation doesn't make it much better.

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Re: "I don't usually play dating-sims but..."

#15 Post by lemuel » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:27 pm

By the suttas that I hold on high,
And by the precepts that I obey,
I never pirate games.

Hanako Games are good and fun to play, much too precious to be stolen.

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